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By Bob Wandstraat
William Shakespeare had Hamlet’s mother Queen Gertrude utter the classic line, “The lady doth protest too much,” to suggest insincerity.
No one is accusing Tonga’s nobles of being disingenuous in their constant criticism of the Government’s long overdue decision to reject hosting the 2019 Pacific Games; but at the heart of their campaign is the callous disregard of the common people.
Not a month goes by without a plea from a Tongan family for a kidney dialysis machine or even basic medical treatment. No problems for the Royal Family, nobles, politicians and senior public servants who fly to New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere for check-ups and treatment. It’s not for the nobles to worry about Tonga’s bankrupt economy, which only survives on donations from overseas Tongans, aid organisations and foreign Governments.
If the Royals were serious about the rights and welfare of Tongan citizens, would the King have left on a three-month-long holiday in Scotland on the morning after being told of the death of 74 men, women and children aboard the ill-fated Princess Ashika ferry?
Would Princess Pilolevu keep secret the millions of dollars her satellite company received out of a grant from China to the then Royal-led Government; funds which were supposed to be used for the re-building of Nuku’alofa?
True democracy will only come to Tonga when the nine noble MPs are elected by popular vote; the Minister of Lands is not required to be a noble; the King’s judicial appointments and approval are scrapped; all women and men have full inheritance and land ownership rights; overseas Tongans have the right to vote; and the Royals, nobles and churches all pay taxes on their assets.
Meanwhile, the nobles, their supporters and those with a vested interest need to tone down their opposition to the proposed new golf course and shopping centre development. Because until the environmental issues are settled, it simply looks like insuring the future of the current noble-owned golf course and noble-owned building and business owners.